Senate Bombarded on ‘Pedophile Protection Act’

In its first day, hundreds of Americans have taken advantage of a unique campaign to sound off in opposition to new hate-crimes legislation on the fast track of the U.S. Senate by overnighting letters to individual senators at a significantly reduced price. Janet Porter, president of Faith2Action, organized the effort to utilize reduced rates for individual letters delivered by Fed Ex to individual senators in bulk quantities. Overnight letters not only have more impact, but can be assured of delivery in time to impact pending legislation. For only $10.95, any member of the public can send letters to all 100 senators, individually addressed and “signed” by the sender. The letters ask for a written response and call for opposition to the bill, including by filibuster if necessary.

“In the first 12 hours of this campaign alone, 500 orders were placed,” said Joseph Farah, founder and chief executive officer of WorldNetDaily. “That represents 50,000 actual letters to be distributed to 100 U.S. senators the next day. At the rate these orders are being placed, I would estimate we will see as many as 10,000 orders before we close out the offer. That will represent 1 million letters, all delivered by overnight express, to the 100 people who will decide the fate of this bill.” (Click on link above to send letters.)

Maine Becomes 5th State to Allow Gay Marriage

Maine’s governor signed a freshly passed bill Wednesday approving gay marriage, making it the fifth state to approve the practice and moving New England closer to allowing it throughout the region. New Hampshire legislators were also poised to send a gay marriage bill to their governor, who hasn’t indicated whether he’ll sign it. If he does, Rhode Island would be the region’s sole holdout. The Maine Senate voted 21-13, with one absent, for a bill that authorizes marriage between any two people rather than between one man and one woman, as state law currently allows.

Hawaii Lawmakers Vote to Celebrate ‘Islam Day’

Hawaii’s state Senate has overwhelmingly approved a bill to celebrate “Islam Day,” despite the objections of a few lawmakers who said they didn’t think the state should honor a religion connected to Sept. 11, 2001. The resolution to proclaim Sept. 24, 2009, as Islam Day passed the Senate on a 22-3 vote Wednesday. The bill was previously passed by Hawaii’s House of Representatives. The bill recognizes what it calls “the rich religious, scientific, cultural and artistic contributions” that Islam and the Islamic world have made. But the Senate’s two Republicans argued that radical Islamists cheered the 2001 attacks. They also noted that other religions didn’t have a special day honored.

  • Muslims are slowly taking over the world with the fertility weapon. As Western fertility rates shrink below replaceable levels, Muslims are reproducing at record levels and will soon be the majority population in many European countries. Historically, it takes a fertility rate of 2.1 to maintain a population. Europe is averaging about 1.5. Muslims are reproducing at an 8.1 fertility rate.

Mexico Opens for Business under Strict Rules

Most businesses in Mexico reopened Wednesday after being closed for five days because of the swine flu outbreak, but they faced a complex — and, to some people, utterly bewildering — set of new health restrictions, including a mandatory two empty seats between people at movie theaters. People leaving theaters or cinemas must do so in organized stages while keeping a space of “at least two steps” between them. Waiters at restaurants are forbidden from wearing ties, which the city government called a “reservoir for germs.” Restaurants in Mexico City must operate at no more than 50% capacity, not offer buffet service, and disinfect menus and salsa trays between servings.

President Obama Seeks only Modest Budget Cuts

President Obama is taking a scalpel, instead of an axe, to the federal budget. Obama’s promised line-by-line scrub of the federal budget has produced a roster of 121 budget cuts totaling $17 billion — or about one-half of 1 percent of the $3.4 trillion budget Congress has approved for next year. Those savings are far exceeded by a phone-book-sized volume detailing Obama’s generous increases for domestic programs that will accompany the call for cuts. And instead of devoting the savings to defray record deficits, the White House is funneling them back into other programs.

  • Our bloated bureaucratic government and its enormous debt will eventually, and probably soon, sink the ship of state.

New Unemployment Claims Drop

New applications for jobless benefits plunged to the lowest level in 14 weeks, a sign that the wave of layoffs may have peaked. Still, the number of unemployed workers continuing to get benefits climbed to a new record. The Labor Department says the number newly laid off workers applying for benefits dropped to 601,000 last week. But the number of people who are receiving jobless benefits climbed to 6.35 million, setting a record for a 14th straight week.

In a second report Thursday, the Labor Department said productivity, the key ingredient to rising living standards, grew at a 0.8% annual rate in the January-March quarter. The report showed that even though output plunged the first three months of the year, the number of hours worked fell more, reflecting widespread layoffs.

Wal-Mart, Target lead Encouraging Retail report

Consumers enticed by warmer weather and glimmers of hope for the economy bought more in April, helping boost sales results at established stores. Wal-Mart reported a stronger-than-expected 5% rise in sales at U.S. stores open at least a year, helped by demand for Easter merchandise. Target says same-store sales edged up 0.3% in April and it predicted first-quarter results will likely beat expectations. Overall, however, business remains weak, and many analysts expect a drawn-out recovery as layoffs keep increasing and other economic woes persist.

CEO Pay Dives in 2008

CEOs had a rough 2008. First, their image sank to new lows as the Wall Street and economic collapse fanned public outrage. Then most, even those far removed from the financial sector, took a blow to their wealth, as well. A USA TODAY analysis of executive compensation data provided by the Associated Press found that the median salary of a CEO running an S&P 500 company rose 3% last year to surpass $1 million. The median bonus and other incentive cash dropped 27% to $1.3 million, and total compensation was down 7% to $7.6 million.

  • Oh those poor execs, having to suffer a 7% pay cut. Their average $1 million salary and $1.3 million in bonuses is going to make life miserable.

GM Posts $6B Q1 Loss

General Motors posted a $6 billion first-quarter loss and said Thursday it burned through $10.2 billion cash the first three months of the year as revenue plummeted by $20 billion. Chief Financial Officer Ray Young said talk of the company going into reorganization under bankruptcy appears to have scared some consumers away from buying GM vehicles. GM faces a June 1 government deadline to finish a restructuring plan or go into bankruptcy. Revenue dropped 47%, from $42.4 billion a year ago to $22.4 billion in the latest quarter. Although the company cut structural costs by $3 billion, Young said that wasn’t enough to offset plunging revenue.

Pentagon to Add 20,000 Jobs; Revamp Contracting

Under pressure to overhaul its troubled weapons-buying process, the U.S. Defense Department is planning to add 20,000 new federal jobs over five years to reinforce its ability to handle contracts, cost estimates and oversight. As the department increases personnel, it also will move toward more fixed-price contracts, scrutinize programs more closely and link incentive payments to contractors’ performance. The changes are part of a broad effort to bring under control an acquisition process that has been plagued with huge cost overruns, lengthy delays and a sharp decline in competition among a shrinking number of contractors.

Post Office is $1.9 billion in Red

The post office was $1.9 billion in the red for the second quarter of the fiscal year and continues to face the possibility of running out of money before year’s end. The agency cited the recession and movement of mail to electronic communications in announcing the loss on Wednesday.  Postal rates go up on Monday, but the increase — to 44 cents for first-class mail — is unlikely to cover the entire shortfall. Work hours have been cut by 58 million hours so far this year, the equivalent of a reduction of 33,000 full-time employees. In addition, the post office has been seeking savings by consolidating excess capacity in mail processing and transportation networks, realigning carrier routes, halting construction of new postal facilities, freezing officer and executive salaries at 2008 pay levels and reducing travel budgets.

U.S., Pakistan & Afghanistan Vow Unity against Insurgents

President Obama and the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan heralded “unprecedented cooperation” Wednesday after a series of meetings aimed at creating a coordinated policy against insurgents threatening the security of both allies. Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan met with Obama and other U.S. officials in what Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called a “breakthrough” series of sessions. Their shared mountainous region is where insurgents of the fundamentalist Muslim Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan until 2001, have taken control of much of the countryside. Karzai and Zardari brought a host of government ministers who are slated to sit down today with senior U.S. officials, from the CIA director to the Agriculture secretary, to coordinate a counterinsurgency strategy that includes both civilian and military elements.

Police fired on rock-throwing protesters Thursday who were angry about civilian deaths they blame on American bombing runs in western Afghanistan, a local official said, as U.S. military and Afghan investigators examined the site. The International Red Cross and local officials said the people were killed by U.S. bombs, though the military said that may not have been the case.

There are no plans to deploy U.S. ground troops to Pakistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday, despite concerns over increasing violence between Pakistani troops and Taliban militants.

Wildfires

High winds and scorching temperatures pushed a mountain wildfire into the seaside resort community of Santa Barbara, Calif., on Wednesday, destroying homes and forcing thousands of people to flee. Fire officials extended mandatory evacuations to at least 2,000 homes Multiple homes could be seen engulfed in flames along hillsides.

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